Thank you Kacie Scherler & Pepperdine students for coming down to FTX!!!!
here’s the article:
Serving up love
By KACIE SCHERLER
Published: Thursday, January 28, 2010
Updated: Monday, February 1, 2010
Shyam Yadav loves carbohydrates. His best friend Daisy, a brown pit-bull, adores hugs. Accordingly, this dynamic duo created the “French Toast and Hugs” (FTX) gang.
The FTX gang hands out free French toast and hugs on street corners worldwide, touring London, Philadelphia, India and, most recently, Los Angeles.
Last Sunday, Pepperdine students assisted FTX in feeding the homeless and hungry at the corner of 6th and Towne streets in downtown Los Angeles. Hundreds lined up at 8 a.m. to get their French toast, heaped high with whipped cream, chocolate and fresh fruit.
With more than 50 “gang members,” the FTX team loaded up 525 bottles of water, 60 loaves of freshly baked challah bread, 40 dozen eggs, 22 bottles of maple syrup, 3 grills and one whisk for Sunday morning’s big event.
FTX members sported bright yellow shirts with French toast on the front and were recognizable by the smiles on their faces. “I do it out of love,” five-year gang member Messrob Torikian said. “This experience has been phenomenal.”
Identifiable by his cowboy hat, gang leader Yadav spent the morning on a makeshift grill that was ingeniously attached to a red wagon. A photo of Daisy, who couldn’t make it to the event, leaned against the cooker as a tribute to a key gang member who helped bring the FTX idea into reality.
“The amount of friendships and the solidity of our group are very powerful,” long-time FTX crew member Jovin Montanaro said.
Montanaro has been with the organization since its inception in 2003. “It’s guerilla-style,” Jovin explained. “We hit, and no one knows we’re coming. We don’t ask permission. It’s always surprising, we never have problems, and we are never kicked out.” (In fact, the police have been known to enjoy the free grub and hang out on the streets during FTX events.)
The hungry crowd displayed an attitude of gratitude, despite long lines and the chill of the morning.
“God blesses and knows the benevolent,” an easygoing homeless man named Mark said. “People in Haiti would die to be in this line.”
“Excellent! Superb! We need this kind of refreshment!” Grace, a homeless woman, said in her hip, relaxed Jamaican accent. “You have to go to a restaurant to get this kind of meal!”
The French toast not only looked gourmet, but the taste was praiseworthy. Victor, another homeless man, exclaimed that “[he] was gonna have to get in line and check it out again!” After finishing his last bite, he planned to go back for “seconds, thirds, maybe fourths or fifths!”
Pepperdine students volunteered throughout the day cooking, serving, picking up trash and interacting with people. Armed with garbage bags, students walked the block sorting recyclables. Volunteers cut fresh bananas and strawberries for participants to enjoy on their mouth-watering breakfasts.
Volunteers also sang with the homeless, listened to their stories and shared experiences that made Sunday morning a memorable time.
“There were some interesting characters out there, pretty nice people,” freshman Noah Webster said. “It was refreshing to see that we’re all the same, regardless of status.”
“I came out for breakfast and ended up volunteering,” Pepperdine alumna Sarah Burch said. “It’s been awesome. I wish I did this on a more regular basis.” Burch, known as “Burch-tastic” by her friends, encouraged current Pepperdine students to dive into volunteering. “It really does great things.”
Yadav, by using his creativity and passions, has inspired and reached out to the oppressed with a relatively simple idea. Read more about FTX events, members and ways to help on his blog at Frenchtoastandhugs.com.
As Yadav states: “Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Start it right with French toast.”